Queen of the Damned: A Collaborative Poem

Renga is a form of collaborative poetry that originated in Japan. Here at the INKubator, it’s a daily, ongoing event for the entire community. We alternate a pair of drafting days with a pair of voting days. Anyone who wants to participate can create verses and vote on the one that gets used to move the poem forward.

Our thanks to Amy Heath (@alheath) for being our Renga hostess and keeping things on track. She and Damian Jay Clay (@damianjayclay) worked together to polish and edit the poem for improved consistency. Amy also took care of making the cover art.


Queen of the Damned

Cold wind pokes glass skin
as light returns
and her dungeon opens.

The once-princess steps
into the cooling wasteland of exile.

A man with shabby clothes
stands by the exit.
“We need to hurry.”

Without waiting for a reply,
he walks out into a windswept land.

A wooden staff steps ahead,
the girl lifts her face to the shattered remains.
The Creation of her own regime.

Around the city walls,
endless mounds of half-buried dead.

Gathered vultures squat
under empty skies.
Their heads bow as she passes.

Hours later they stop to rest,
sheltering amidst some rocks.

She slides her arms behind him,
pulling and twisting his neck;
its crack ends his snoring.

With a chuckle, she scratches her face and arms
the better to play the damsel in distress.

Seated on the stony ground,
she waits
for the approaching caravan.

Harnesses jingle and wagons creak
as hoofbeats approach.

The masked rider halts,
his voice sharp.
“Get in.”

She ascends the carriage steps.
A figure sits facing her.

A blood curdling scream comes
from the driver of the carriage.
A dagger pierces his heart.

Saddling the horse, she rides.
The blade glistens in the moonlight.

Right on her tail,
a cavalry follows
waving their scimitars.

A tidal wave of bodies rolls across parched earth,
leaving rivers of blood in its wake.

At the base of the city walls far behind,
the dead move in the shadows, brought alive
by their lust for revenge.

A wail rises from decaying throats
and a shiver runs down her spine.

One of the dead stands out from the rest.
Dressed in fine silk clothing, it moans “How could you, how could you?”
She realized that it was her husband, the first man she killed.

No longer his chattel, she ruled him now.
She pressed her lips against his tattered, desiccated flesh.

And bit down, slicing
through lips and jaw. “Never
call me that again. Darling.”

He whimpers, broken jaw crumbling.
She smiles. “Now we’re even, but not equal. Kneel.”

“You were imprisoned, dear wife.”
He chokes on the words.
“For your sins know no equal.”

As he resists her weakened magic,
the corpse army nears, howling.

The horde is upon her,
skeleton claws
dig into her glass skin.

The shadow of death crowns
her, queen of the damned.


Of Included Verses

  • Anike Kirsten (@anikekirsten)
  • R. Jean Bell (@bex-dk)
  • Jeremy Mifsud (@poetrybyjeremy)
  • Jasmine Arch (@jasminearch)
  • Iden (@idenkcall)
  • Andrew J. Savage (@thinknzombie)
  • Amy Heath (@alheath)
  • Azazel Silverbow
  • Peter Phillio (@negativer)
  • Rowena Harding-Smith

Additional Participants

  • Constance Watson (@therosepatch)
  • Damian Jay Clay (@damianjayclay)
  • Koji A. Dae

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